Clarke's Pure Rye Whiskey Tip Tray, Peoria, IL. Circa 1910

The town of Peoria, Illinois was at one time the largest whiskey producing city in the United States.  There were many companies based in Peoria in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.   Originally started as the Clarke Bros. Whiskey Distillery and later called The Clarke Bros. & Company Distillery, the company claimed to be the largest whiskey distillery in the world on many of their advertising items.   Interestingly, many of their items often incorporated a slogan which read “Bottled By The Government” on the pieces.   I can only speculate that the U.S. government probably contracted with the Clarke Distillery and then shipped a lot of their product off to the military during the Spanish-American War and during World War I.

The Irony of this partnership is simply the U.S. Governments about-face with their stance on alcohol during prohibition.  One day they are contracting with companies to produce whiskey, and then the next day they close the entire industry down with the passage of the 18th amendment.  Today collectors will find quite a bit of advertising from this company including china plates, tin serving trays, wooden signs, whiskey bottles, etched shot glasses, and many other types of items they could give to encourage repeat customers.  Unfortunately for Peoria, the passage of the laws commencing prohibition ended a way of life for many of its residents.  With the repeal in 1933, only a few of the companies came back into production at that time, paving the way for Louisville, KY to become the whiskey capital of the U.S., which it remains still today.